LIGHT YOUR LIBRARY! Win Stuff, Love People, and Think Deeply

ME & MY LIBRARY

I am not ashamed to say I love my local library.  As a conservative, I wish that it could be funded some other way than government plunder, but it’s not a perfect world, is it?  And as a classical homeschooler, the books we get there play a huge role in our curriculum.  But it’s not just the books.

My children have only just graduated out of toddlerhood and into childhood, so our library storytime days aren’t far behind us.   Our neighborhood librarian has been an icon for years, preaching to young moms about the importance of reading to their children (5 books a day!!) and seeking to expose kids to great kids’ books that would inspire a lifetime of reading.  A puppet named Krissy Koala who gives out hugs at the end of each storytime doesn’t hurt kids’ interest either.  During those toddler years, I can’t tell you how many times I had gotten 3 hours of sleep and my kids and I would show up at the library 15 minutes late with crazy hair and mismatched clothes.  Regardless, we were welcomed with a smile and given 45 minutes of crafts and snacks and reading fun together.  The library was such a reprieve from many of the trials and tribulations of everyday life, and there were moms (and dads) in desperate situations that brought their kids for a few minutes of sanity.  I have seen the good that it did in their lives and my own.  Now that we’re homeschooling, we have less time to play with them.  But we do need more help looking through the stacks and ordering particular school books, and our librarians, Dorothy and Lloyd and Jeanette, are old friends now who are a bit like aunts and uncles.  They comment on our new dresses and ask my kids about summer vacation or their latest favorite book.  And honestly, if your library doesn’t have a Mr. Lloyd, you should get one.  His stories about his farm and the baby animals that get into all kinds of trouble are worth a trip to the library in themselves.

As a Christian, though, I haven’t been under the illusion that our library is safe for years now.   Libraries–both community and public school ones–are as only as good as the librarians, authors, and patrons who support them.  And since the Biblical prophet Jeremiah tells us that the human heart “is deceitful above all things,” the pitfalls for children and adults in a library are legion.  Most of them are the same challenges we find in the rest of our culture and our own hearts, and they tend to center around the simple principle of idolatry.  An idol is anything that takes the place of God in our lives as our first love, and libraries are full of some of the most artful, well-crafted, and glorious idols that you could ever hope to meet, all nicely arranged by reading level and topic.   In fact, for many caretakers of books in our society–publishers, authors, librarians, etc.–books themselves have become an idol and the center of a pluralistic religion.

Banned Books Week is next week, and it’s a time when many Americans will be thinking about the rights and responsibilities of libraries in a free society.  In light of this, we’d like to ask, what can Christians offer the debate?  Are we required to try to sanitize our libraries of all of their idols?  Or should we mind our own business, keeping quiet even if pornography or racism appear on the lowest bookshelves?  What is the appropriate Christian response?  These are touchy questions, and many Christians will disagree about how to answer them.  But Janie and I feel they need to be asked, and we hope to engage many of you on them in the coming two weeks.  We also have two authors who’ve kindly consented to interviews that we hope will add further insight on the subject.  (We’ll announce them soon, so keep watching…)

No matter your point of view, we hope you can agree with us that the first place a Christian should start is by seeking the Lord, and then seeking to bring His love tangibly into the libraries in our communities.

 

 

LIGHT YOUR LIBRARY

We love libraries.  We love librarians.  But like any other part of our fallen world, libraries are spiritual battlegrounds.  Janie and I invite you to join us in a gospel-centered response to Banned Books Week, the last week of September:

  • PRAY:  We’d like you first of all to pray and possibly fast with us, asking the Lord to redeem American libraries and book culture.  That He would confirm the good they already do in our communities, but that He would also work in the hearts of librarians as well as authors, publishers, and patrons to create books and a reading culture that truly glorifies Him and meets the deepest needs of all people.
  • THINK: We’ll be hosting several guest posters over the next couple of weeks, as well as approaching the issue from various perspectives.  Even if you disagree with others’ point of view, we will have to opportunity to show onlookers what Christian charity means.  We ask you to think deeply and respond kindly on these important issues.  (And we’re asking God to help us do the same!)
  • LOVE: We’ll discuss practical ways that you can impact your library and love your librarian, as well as the children she serves.
  • WIN: And yes, we’ll have books you can win!  See below.

 

CONTEST

We’ve asked several Christian authors and leaders this question: If you could give one Christian kids’ book to every library in America, what would it be?  (That includes books for adults that could be read by teenagers, by the way.)  We hope to post their suggestions on Friday, September  30th as a capstone for Banned Books Week.  However, in the meantime, we’d like to hear your suggestions?  What book do you think could make the biggest impact for Christ in our culture?

I’ll randomly (providentially?) pick one winner from the submissions we receive in the comments to this post to receive two copies of Simonetta Carr’s new biography, Athanasius.  That’s one copy for your family and another for your library or another book-lover in your life.  We may have some other prizes as well, so stay tuned.  We’ll announce the winners on Friday, September 30th.  And we hope that some of you might even feel led to gift one of the books recommended below to your library!

 

A CONVERSATION STARTER

Janie and I have gotten so much conversation fodder from a recent interview on NPR with YA author Lauren Myracle and Wall Street Journal book critic, Meghan Cox Gurdon.  We think every Christian parent can benefit from the questions addressed.  And since Megan Cox Gurdon will be joining us later in the week (whoops!  I let is slip!), we hope that many of you will take a few minutes to listen to the audio here.

 

 

If you don’t want to miss any of the fun, be sure to “like” us on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/redeemedreader.   We’ll have updates and links throughout the week, as well as announce our winners in the end.

COMMENTS

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43 Responses to LIGHT YOUR LIBRARY! Win Stuff, Love People, and Think Deeply

  1. Lisa @ Me and My House September 29, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    I’d love to win this book. From what I’ve read about this series (and I hope to get the whole series when I can), it would be a great addition to a public library. But the one that I would add, life changing, is Dangerous Journey, a children’s retelling of Pilgrims Progress, beautifully illustrated.

  2. Katie September 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    The Princess and the Goblins by George Macdonald. The language is a little archaic but our 5-year-old gets it!

  3. Katie in Ohio September 29, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    Anything written by G.A. Henty!

  4. Kellie September 29, 2011 at 5:58 am #

    Pilgrim’s Progress

  5. Heather September 28, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    I think every library should have a copy of The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm. It is such a clear and concise, yet complete summary of God’s plan through history! Though the gospel is clearly presented, I think a case could be made that public libraries should include this book in their collection from a cultural and historical standpoint. They certainly have books about other religions for young readers!

    By the way, I would love to win these two books because we have good friends with a son named Athanasius! He’s called Athan (with a short-a sound) for short, and this would be a perfect birthday present for him!

  6. Mariel September 28, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Anything by Meindert DeJong is on my list. The Wheel On The School is superb. But DeJong has so many others too: The Last Little Cat, Hurry Home Candy, Peppermint Street, The Cat That Walked a Week….

  7. Shanna Gonzalez September 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    The Prince’s Poison Cup can’t be beat for drama, excitement, and enjoyment in a Gospel parable. There’s even a dramatic recording available.

    Of course the Chronicles of Narnia are already on library shelves, and are likely to stay that way despite some nervousness about parallels between Tash worship and Islam.

  8. Karen Meyer September 28, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    I’d choose Perilous Journey, the edited and illustrated Pilgrim’s Progress.

  9. johanna rogers September 28, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    I would have to vote for “The Church History ABC’s ” by Steve Nichols. It’s beautiful and the short biographies of key people in church history are made easy for little ones to remember.

  10. Carol September 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    By the way, Betsy, I’m a former chldren’s librarian in a public library–MLS–now working in a Christian school K-12 library. Dream jobs do happen! : )

  11. Carol September 27, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    One of my favorite children’s books is Sidney and Norman by Phil Vischer, illustrated by Justin Gerard. Although I don’t know that any book donated to a public library is going to change a doubter’s heart–only God and His grace can do that. On the other hand, the book that figured most in my journey to Christ was Lewis’s Mere Christianity. But most public libraries have that one!

  12. Christy September 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    My first (several) choices have already been mentioned, so I’ll just give my children’s favorite book of the week: Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas. Thanks for all the thoughtful responses everyone. We haven’t read all that has been mentioned. We’ll have to grow our home library and maybe make some recommendations to our librarian!

  13. Christy September 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    My first (several) choices have already been mentioned, so I’ll just give my children’s favorite book of the week: Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas. Thanks for all the thoughtful responses everyone. We haven’t read all that has been mentioned. We’ll have to grow our home library and maybe make some recommendations to our librarian!

  14. Megan September 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    I knew C.S. Lewis would already be suggested, so I’ll add a couple read-alikes: The Tower of Geburah (series) by John White and The Wilderking trilogy by Jonathan Rogers. Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss is another huge favorite of mine, a distinguished classic that appeals to YA and adults.

  15. Megan September 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    I knew C.S. Lewis would already be suggested, so I’ll add a couple read-alikes: The Tower of Geburah (series) by John White and The Wilderking trilogy by Jonathan Rogers. Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss is another huge favorite of mine, a distinguished classic that appeals to YA and adults.

  16. Bobbee Pennington September 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    I am a librarian in a public library in Texas. I live in a conservative community sprinkled with a few old angry hippies here and there. My home church group prayed me through getting my Masters in Library Science. As a Christian, I seek to provide books based on the community’s make-up. We are to use patron requests and some reviews and book awards given by people in the East who obviously have little knowledge of child development or morals. I ask the local homeschool commmunity to call in thier requests! So please, be kind to your librarian and library director and let your requests be made known long and loud.
    Also, if you see a banned books display this September, get a few Bibles off the library shelves and let the library director know that the Bible is at the top of the banned book list.

  17. Bobbee Pennington September 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    I am a librarian in a public library in Texas. I live in a conservative community sprinkled with a few old angry hippies here and there. My home church group prayed me through getting my Masters in Library Science. As a Christian, I seek to provide books based on the community’s make-up. We are to use patron requests and some reviews and book awards given by people in the East who obviously have little knowledge of child development or morals. I ask the local homeschool commmunity to call in thier requests! So please, be kind to your librarian and library director and let your requests be made known long and loud.
    Also, if you see a banned books display this September, get a few Bibles off the library shelves and let the library director know that the Bible is at the top of the banned book list.

  18. Cathy September 22, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    I love many of the books already suggested, so my choice of suggestions is thinning. That’s what I get for not getting here until Thursday!

    1. Classic literature, adventure story and conversion story all in one. Scribners Storybook Classic Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. This is a carefully crafted abridged version;thin and large with all the N.C. Wyeth art from the full length version. The full length version is good too, but is lengthy and perhaps not as inviting to children. (Though books from the main Scribners series do usually end up in the JFiction because of the Wyeth art.)

    2. Since the prize is biography, I’ll add one in that category too. Martin Luther, A Man Who Changed the World by Paul Maier. Well told, nice art.

    3. Last, but not least a tru picture book. The Three Trees By angela Elwell Hunt, illus by Tim Jonke. (There are other editions with different art – not nearly so good.) A classic folktale that is simple and powerful.

  19. Cathy September 22, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    I love many of the books already suggested, so my choice of suggestions is thinning. That’s what I get for not getting here until Thursday!

    1. Classic literature, adventure story and conversion story all in one. Scribners Storybook Classic Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. This is a carefully crafted abridged version;thin and large with all the N.C. Wyeth art from the full length version. The full length version is good too, but is lengthy and perhaps not as inviting to children. (Though books from the main Scribners series do usually end up in the JFiction because of the Wyeth art.)

    2. Since the prize is biography, I’ll add one in that category too. Martin Luther, A Man Who Changed the World by Paul Maier. Well told, nice art.

    3. Last, but not least a tru picture book. The Three Trees By angela Elwell Hunt, illus by Tim Jonke. (There are other editions with different art – not nearly so good.) A classic folktale that is simple and powerful.

  20. Kristina J. September 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    Sunny mentioned almost my exact thoughts when I read the question. I haven’t read the peterson books, I’ll have to get on that… Thanks for asking, and for urging prayer! Only God can change our culture, ultimately.

  21. Kristina J. September 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    Sunny mentioned almost my exact thoughts when I read the question. I haven’t read the peterson books, I’ll have to get on that… Thanks for asking, and for urging prayer! Only God can change our culture, ultimately.

  22. Rhoda Graybill September 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    All of Patricia St. John’s books. If I had to choose one, I’d say “Treasures of the Snow.”

  23. Rhoda Graybill September 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    All of Patricia St. John’s books. If I had to choose one, I’d say “Treasures of the Snow.”

  24. Jess September 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Oh, good question.

    I think for kids I would choose the Wingfeather Saga (by Andrew Peterson)–if only one of them, I think I would do the first book, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, even though I like the latest one the best so far.

    However, my all-time favorite books are The Fiddler’s Gun and Fiddler’s Green by A. S. Peterson (actually, he’s Andrew Peterson’s brother). I wouldn’t recommend them to kids, but for adults and teens (depending on their maturity level)… I’m tempted to hand out these books on the street anyway. I think every library should own them.

    Can’t wait to check out the posts this week–I’m a little behind, but I’ll catch up today! :-)

  25. Jess September 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Oh, good question.

    I think for kids I would choose the Wingfeather Saga (by Andrew Peterson)–if only one of them, I think I would do the first book, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, even though I like the latest one the best so far.

    However, my all-time favorite books are The Fiddler’s Gun and Fiddler’s Green by A. S. Peterson (actually, he’s Andrew Peterson’s brother). I wouldn’t recommend them to kids, but for adults and teens (depending on their maturity level)… I’m tempted to hand out these books on the street anyway. I think every library should own them.

    Can’t wait to check out the posts this week–I’m a little behind, but I’ll catch up today! :-)

  26. emily September 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    Thanks, Betsy and Sunny! More great suggestions.

  27. emily September 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    Thanks, Betsy and Sunny! More great suggestions.

  28. Betsy September 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Me again–I think Girl Meets God would be a great choice to put in a public library. It’s an honest, forthright memoir of a Jewish girl who becomes a Christian.

    Also, I wrote a post about positive library activism on my blog! (www.literaritea.blogspot.com)

  29. Betsy September 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Me again–I think Girl Meets God would be a great choice to put in a public library. It’s an honest, forthright memoir of a Jewish girl who becomes a Christian.

    Also, I wrote a post about positive library activism on my blog! (www.literaritea.blogspot.com)

  30. Betsy September 21, 2011 at 5:10 am #

    I’m anxious to see how this plays out on RR. I’ll be honest: I’m in library school right now and Christians do NOT have a good reputation. In the name of Christ, people really have burned books in front of libraries, stormed the library doors demanding books be taken from shelves, made challenge requests WITHOUT actually reading the book in question (!!??), and many other actions that simply push “Christians” low on the totem pole of respect. It’s worth remembering that our public libraries are PUBLIC institutions and will always reflect our public society–in all its glory and depravity. We can’t expect the public library to glorify or celebrate any one religious viewpoint over another or we run the risk of setting a dangerous pattern–what happens when a different religious group starts getting more sway and our libraries shift their perspective. I think the goal is “equal opportunity”–we may disagree with how that is played out, but we do want to protect that general goal for our own sake in the future.

    It’s also worth remembering that collection and acquisition decisions are rarely made by your local librarian anymore. If your library is part of a county-wide (or city-wide) system, then there is probably a collection development staff that oversees book/media purchases for the entire system. Just something to remember.

    My dream: a Christian-based homeschool/Christian school library that can serve the broader homeschool and Christian school community in my own community–wouldn’t that be great? Not to be bound by “public” concerns but free to really pick and choose which books landed on the shelves?!

  31. Betsy September 21, 2011 at 5:10 am #

    I’m anxious to see how this plays out on RR. I’ll be honest: I’m in library school right now and Christians do NOT have a good reputation. In the name of Christ, people really have burned books in front of libraries, stormed the library doors demanding books be taken from shelves, made challenge requests WITHOUT actually reading the book in question (!!??), and many other actions that simply push “Christians” low on the totem pole of respect. It’s worth remembering that our public libraries are PUBLIC institutions and will always reflect our public society–in all its glory and depravity. We can’t expect the public library to glorify or celebrate any one religious viewpoint over another or we run the risk of setting a dangerous pattern–what happens when a different religious group starts getting more sway and our libraries shift their perspective. I think the goal is “equal opportunity”–we may disagree with how that is played out, but we do want to protect that general goal for our own sake in the future.

    It’s also worth remembering that collection and acquisition decisions are rarely made by your local librarian anymore. If your library is part of a county-wide (or city-wide) system, then there is probably a collection development staff that oversees book/media purchases for the entire system. Just something to remember.

    My dream: a Christian-based homeschool/Christian school library that can serve the broader homeschool and Christian school community in my own community–wouldn’t that be great? Not to be bound by “public” concerns but free to really pick and choose which books landed on the shelves?!

  32. Sunny September 20, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    Only one? I think I’d go with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, though the whole Chronicles would be better. My other recommendation would be the Jesus Storybook Bible. I can’t wait to hear the suggestions from others!

  33. Sunny September 20, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    Only one? I think I’d go with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, though the whole Chronicles would be better. My other recommendation would be the Jesus Storybook Bible. I can’t wait to hear the suggestions from others!

  34. Melinda September 20, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Megan Cox Gurdon?!?!?!? Can’t wait!!

  35. Melinda September 20, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Megan Cox Gurdon?!?!?!? Can’t wait!!

  36. emily September 20, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    Such great suggestions already! Thanks guys! I guess I’ll wait and announce my favorite at the end…if I can wait that long.

  37. emily September 20, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    Such great suggestions already! Thanks guys! I guess I’ll wait and announce my favorite at the end…if I can wait that long.

  38. willowsprite September 19, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    My choice would be The Jesus Storybook Bible. The constant message of hope throughout the book gets anyone hooked! (Not to mention the colourful illustrations…) Right now I am enjoying Hind’s Feet in High Places, which could be another recommendation for adults and children.

  39. willowsprite September 19, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    My choice would be The Jesus Storybook Bible. The constant message of hope throughout the book gets anyone hooked! (Not to mention the colourful illustrations…) Right now I am enjoying Hind’s Feet in High Places, which could be another recommendation for adults and children.

  40. Stuart September 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    I think literature is a great way of promoting the faith without people being turned away by presuppositions. With that in mind, I will always love and recommend the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. If I could choose a couple more, it would be The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald.

  41. Stuart September 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    I think literature is a great way of promoting the faith without people being turned away by presuppositions. With that in mind, I will always love and recommend the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. If I could choose a couple more, it would be The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald.

  42. Daisy September 19, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    I love R.C. Sproul’s books for children. They are beautiful storybooks that teach wonderful truths about God.

    I don’t know if I could choose which one though.

    The King Without a Shadow
    The Lightlings
    The Priest with Dirty Clothes
    The Prince’s Poison Cup

  43. Daisy September 19, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    I love R.C. Sproul’s books for children. They are beautiful storybooks that teach wonderful truths about God.

    I don’t know if I could choose which one though.

    The King Without a Shadow
    The Lightlings
    The Priest with Dirty Clothes
    The Prince’s Poison Cup

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